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Human brains not as exceptional as thought: Study

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Human brains not as exceptional as thought: Study
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NewYork, November 1,2017: When it comes to brainpower, humans may not be as exceptional as we like to think as researchers have found that some animals including the world’s smallest monkeys devote a large proportion of their body energy to the brain, just as we do.

Even the ring-tailed lemur and the tiny quarter-pound pygmy marmoset, the world’s smallest monkey, devote as much of their body energy to their brains as humans do, said the study published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

 “We don’t have a uniquely expensive brain,” said study author Doug Boyer, Assistant Professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US.

“This challenges a major dogma in human evolution studies,” Boyer added.

The study compared the relative brain costs of 22 species.

The results suggest that the ability to grow a relatively more expensive brain evolved not at the dawn of humans, but millions of years before, when our primate ancestors and their close relatives split from the branch of the mammal family tree that includes rodents and rabbits, said Arianna Harrington from Duke University.

Previous studies calculated the amount of energy needed to fuel a brain based on neuron counts.

But because the current study’s method for estimating energy use relies on measurements of bone, rather than soft tissue such as neurons, it is now possible to estimate brain energy demand from the fossilised remains of animals that are extinct too, including early human ancestors, according to the researchers.

“All you would need to take the measurements is an intact skull and some of the neck vertebrae,” Harrington said.(IANS)

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Humanity’s days are numbered, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause mass extinction, warns Stephen Hawking

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Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

London, Nov 3: Earth is becoming too small and humanity is bound to self-destruct, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) replacing us as the dominant being on the planet, according to scientist Stephen Hawking.

Professor Hawking says that our time on Earth is numbered after we passed the point of “no return”.

The theoretical physicist says that developments in AI have been so great that the machines will one day be more dominant than human beings, express.co.uk reported.

He told Wired Magazine: “I fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself.

“This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

Hawking, 75, said that humans need to leave Earth if we are to continue as a species.

He said a new space programme should be humanity’s top priority “with a view to eventually colonising suitable planets for human habitation”.

This will allow us to leave Earth and colonise another planet to ensure our survival, otherwise there will be “serious consequences”.

Professor Hawking added: “I believe we have reached the point of no return. Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.”

Last year, at the opening of Cambridge University’s artificial intelligence centre, Professor Hawking said that AI could either be the best or worst invention humanity has ever made.

“This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

“The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve, when our own minds are amplified by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation.

“And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed, In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.

“But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.” (IANS)

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